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Environment : Road Safety Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02

The Blessing of Baby Car Seats
By Noel Gibbons
8, Mar 2016 - 10:47

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Peace Be With You, and Also With Your Car Seat

One concerned priest in the Catholic Diocese of Tuam, in the west of Ireland, has become worried of late. Specifically, he is worried about child safety. As Fr John Kenny said you often see families driving with small children not in car seats, standing between seats or sittings on their parents knees.

KEEP THEM SAFE: Make sure your child's car seat is fitted correctly

"Catholic priests bless objects as a way of asking God to watch over those who would use or benefit from the use of those objects. The blessing of a car seat is a prayer asking God to watch over the life of the child who will be using that car seat and it will draw the parents attention to such dangers as having unrestrained children in the car," said Fr John Kenny.

"Many drivers seem unaware of the danger of driving without having all occupants in their cars wearing seatbelts and in correct seats," he said.

So, in order to solve this problem, the priest in the Diocese of Tuam decided to create the Seat Them Safely campaign. Parents in his parish are been asked to bring the child seat to him before they go to collect the new born from the hospital and the priest will perform a "blessing-of-the-car-seats" ceremony, as a way to ask God to look over the life of the child in the car seat.

Of course, the Diocese realise that parents also need to be shown proper usage in addition to receiving a blessing, so in conjunction with the campaign, the parents will be given information leaflets on in car safety and are advised to attend RSA check it fits days.

Fr John Kenny blessing car seats (and babies) in Toumakeady Church on Sunday last 6th March, with from left: Brendan and Laura and Méabh Prendergast; Niall, Nuala and Réaltín Donoghue; Tom, Aisling and Tommy Naughton, and David, Deirdre and Ruby Prendergast. Photo: © Michael Donnelly

Noel Gibbons Road safety Officer said One in ten of the 262 children who died on the State's roads between 1997 and 2012 were not wearing a seatbelt or child restraint.

"A lot of people are driving around thinking ‘I'm a good driver, I'm looking after my children'. Meanwhile, their precious cargo, the most important thing in their lives, is not adequately protected."

"Children are so vulnerable because of their size, their weight and their age, that in a crash they are the most vulnerable of road users."

According to the RSA, four out of five child car seats are incorrectly fitted - in a crash they will not work as designed.

Three out of four incorrectly fitted car seats may not save a life, and may cause serious injury.

For older children, seats with a back are three times safer than backless booster seats.

You must make sure the child is as comfortable as possible, or they will be tempted to open their harness. Sometimes this is because the shoulder straps are fixed too low.

Children will often go through a stage of opening their car seat harness as a party trick. It is important to have a serious conversation explaining the dangers of removing their belt.

Child car safety tips

• Select a seat based on child's weight and height;

• Have the car seat fitted by the retailer;

• Keep your child rear-facing for as long as possible - best practice guidelines say they should be kept rear-facing up until 15 months;

• Use Isofix points if your car is fitted with them;

• Make sure the shoulder straps are adjusted properly;

• Regularly check the car seat to make sure it is still secure;

• Keep your child in a high-back seat until they are 150cm in height. Don't use booster cushions;

• Never leave children alone in a car;

• Finally, always remember to use child locks on both the doors and windows

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